Mike Lisagor


Capture management & opportunity assessment: Understanding the requirements

EDITOR'S NOTE: One of the biggest challenges for federal contractors is to assess the win-ability of a new business opportunity. In this weekly series, Mike Lisagor, Centurion Research Solution's business development subject matter expert, takes a detailed look at the major factors that influence winning an opportunity.

In order to assess a contractor’s win probability and to submit a credible, competitive bid, a capture team needs to understand the opportunity program requirements as early in the process as possible.

Demonstrating a clear understanding of the requirements informs the management, technical, and cost approach. Establishing the “right” requirements perspective is an iterative process.

First, establish a baseline understanding and then refine that perspective through additional business development activities.

Key requirements are those that are most important to solving the customer’s problem. Because not all requirements are created equal, the secret to understanding the customer’s explicit and implicit requirements is to identify which requirements are most important to the customer and doing so will drive a successful capture solution and proposal. The ideal situation is to be able to relate the key requirements to the acquisition evaluation criteria.

The best way to ensure none of the request for proposal requirements are missed is to collect them in a Requirements Compliance Matrix like the one shown below. Prior to an RFP release, this matrix can be used simply as a convenient place to collect the requirements.


RFP Paragraph Number




RFP Requirements

(Shall Statements)



Proposal Paragraph that Addresses the Requirement






The offeror shall provide information on plans & methods to:







1.4 (a)



  • Recruit,




1.4 (b)



  • Train &




1.4 (c)



  • Manage quality workforce over the life of the contract.




At a minimum, this matrix should identify every RFP requirement by number, provide a few words of description and, once the draft or final RFP is released and a decision to bid has been made, address the section in the proposal where that requirement will be discussed.

Many clients request this matrix as part of their proposal activities to help them perform a compliance check. Consider including a matrix like this in your next proposal unless the proposal is too constrained by page numbers. Whether to present the matrix at the beginning of the proposal or to breaking it into sections is a proposal manager’s judgment call.

There are many instances where the statement of work is inconsistent with the proposal instructions and evaluation criteria. How to respond to these situations is also up to the proposal manager. But, avoid spending too many hours deliberating the approach. Rather, make sure to provide the evaluator a clear traceability path for purposes of proposal evaluation.

Too many proposal teams get caught up with putting together their approach to the job and lose sight that the first gate they have to get through is submitting a compliant proposal. As far as the government is concerned, a non-compliant proposal is just one less bid to factor into the competitive range.

During a capture planning review meeting, share with management how well the capture team understands the customer’s requirements. Do they have a solid grasp, a general understanding or do they lack familiarity with the requirements? Identify any actions necessary to strengthen their understanding of the requirements.

Next week we’ll explore the second opportunity assessment factor: the customer relationship.

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